Hockey Sense Roundup: Olympic excitement builds as U.S. leans into youth movement
Plus: Stray World Junior news and notes; men's college hockey power rankings, more
Almost immediately after the World Junior Championship was canceled, I started thinking about the Olympics. The disappointment of the NHL not going was still there, especially since I really wanted to see Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews and this newer generation of player on that stage. While we won’t get that, I still think we’re going to get something compelling, which I wasn’t convinced of before.
For a lot of hockey fans, that may take some more convincing. It’s no longer a best-on-best tournament, the NHL will still be playing and that will divide attention, and there’s going to be a lot of players you never heard of* playing for Olympic medals. However, as more information became clear in the reporting process about how Team USA was going to be built, my interest was piqued. There are enough players on the U.S. roster that are going to be solid NHL players in the next few years, so if you hadn’t heard of them before, you’ll be hearing from them soon anyway.
*Based on who I know subscribes to this newsletter, you probably have heard of them, so congrats on being a fellow hockey nerd!
As we’re learning more about how USA Hockey is building this “Plan B” team, the more excitement should grow for not just prospect fans, but what this particular team might be able to say about the future of hockey in the United States. This is a team with an eye on the future and belief in the talent pool that has been growing beneath the NHL level for years. The American talent pool is still deeper than it’s ever been before and this tournament will be a chance to showcase that fact.
By now, you may have seen the report from Frank Seravalli and I about what we’ve learned about the U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team roster to date. If you haven’t, here it is:
I also shared a list of NHL prospects that appear to still be under consideration for both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey for their respective teams based on chatter in various scouting, junior and college hockey circles on DailyFaceoff.com.
There is still a lot of work to be done to complete the roster, but the early names gave a very good indication of the direction Team USA is going for Beijing having learned the lessons from how the 2018 Olympics went.